Hopefully the third time’s the charm for David Quinn, who’s quietly put together one of the best runs of releases over the last few years in independent country music, but since he’s not some scenester in east Nashville or a douche bucket in Texas trying to be Koe Wetzel, not enough noise has been made about him, at least not yet. With his new album Country Fresh though, all excuses for ignoring his guy are exhausted.
He calls it “Black Dirt Country” to distinguish himself from part of the Midwest north of the land of Red Dirt where the music carries a unique heartland perspective divested from the lyrical trends of some other regions. But once he’s amassed an album’s worth of songs, Quinn’s also not too proud to tap into the resource of Nashville’s talent pool to see the vision for his music come to fruition. That’s how pound for pound, David Quinn puts out some of the best-sounding country records you can find, full of quality songs backed by superior instrumentation.
Acting as his own producer on the new album, David Quinn brings together guitar player Laur Joamets formerly of Sturgill Simpson’s band and now of Drivin N Cryin’, “Smokin'” Brett Resnick from Kelsey Waldon’s band, Fats Kaplin on fiddle, dobro, banjo and harmonica, and Sturgill Simpson’s drummer/bandleader Miles Miller to all help to bring Country Fresh to life, and if nothing else, make this album an enjoyable listen from cover to cover.
You queue up this record and the opening title track, and you immediately know you’ve made a smart decision with your country music time and attention. The second song “Low Down” starts with a blazing fiddle, but you just know how the song develops that at some point you’re gonna get some rippin’ Telecaster, and it doesn’t disappoint. “Down Home” is one of many songs from Country Fresh that finds that 70’s Outlaw country groove that’s hard to not fall for.
Country Fresh was recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium, but it was written around a lake in rural Indiana where this Illinois native who’d been living in Chicago fled to during the pandemic. Doubling down on his commitment to songwriting and country music, he came up with 12 songs that are always enjoyable, but upon a few occasions go beyond the rather commonplace themes of songs like “Cornbread and Chili” or “Boy From Illinois.”
Country Fresh is mostly a good-time country groove record. But man, when Mr. Quinn decides to get depressive, he doesn’t hold back, and his writing really shows it’s strengths. “I Came Back To You (To Say Goodbye)” is some pretty masterful country gold, and the solemn piano ballad “Long Road” puts a rather devastating, even fatalistic perspective behind the hardships of trying to make it as a musician on the road.
David Quinn’s wordcraft isn’t exactly cutting or striking on the surface. On this record and his previous ones, he tends to repeat words and phrases as opposed to taking a more involved approach to his songwriting, and doesn’t try to dazzle you with deep vocabulary or convoluted phrasing. But with the music and mood, David still delivers meaningful moments, yet without the burdensome density of some other songwriter material.
As the independent country music revolution continues to expand and elongate, an artist like David Quinn could and should be a big beneficiary, since he’s now amassed a sizable catalog of quality songs and albums. Those who get swept in the movement by some of the flashier names and are thirsty for more should most certainly check out David Quinn, because he gives up nothing to them.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
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